Staff at Melbourne’s Crown casino set to strike

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Crown?s Victorian royal commission gets underway

Staff of Melbourne’s Crown Casino are not happy over their pay.

With its union, United Voice, they are fighting for better pay and job security and are in the final stages of a ballot on whether to strike for the first time in 16 years. The strike would take place during the upcoming Spring Racing Carnival.

“Staff believe as one of the largest and most profitable employers in Australia, Crown should be able to offer a full time job to anyone who wants one,” union national secretary Tim Kennedy said.

United Voice is threatening to bring the casino to a halt as negotiations over a new enterprise bargaining agreement stall. They have applied to the Fair Work Commission to allow for a ballot of its members.

The union will ask members to endorse strikes of up to 24 hours which will include a ban on serving alcohol with the wearing of union branding on shift.

They hope to have the ballot finished by October 28, putting staff in a position to strike by November 1, the day before the Victoria Derby Day and the beginning of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

United Voice is pushing Crown for a 5 per cent wage increase each year under a new three-year enterprise agreement covering 5000 workers. Most recent data shows inflation running at 1.6 per cent with private sector wages growing by 2.3 per cent in the last financial year.

The union is looking for increased job security through maintaining full-time jobs and higher minimum hours for part-time workers, according to Perth Now.

First offer rejected by the union

It rejected Crown’s offer of a 2.5 per cent annual wage increase over each of the next three years and claims Crown had agreed in principle to only one of its demands, being to reduce the time taken to move from casual to permanent employment from 24 months to 12 months.

“Crown staff work hard to keep the casino running 24/7 and make it the success that it is. When our members strike, Crown simply won’t be able to function,” said United Voice state secretary Ben Redford.

United Voice says the 10 meetings that it has had with casino management this year have amounted to little.

A report released by the union last month showed up to 70% of Crown’s staff were in part-time or casual work.

A spokesman for Crown said an agreement was expected to be finalised soon and highlighted the casino’s ability in providing employment and training opportunities.

“Like many other employers in the hospitality industry, we provide a flexible workplace which caters to thousands of staff who prefer to work on a part-time or casual basis as it gives them the flexibility to pursue other work, study or family opportunities,” he said.

“Where staff would like to work additional hours, depending on their availability and trading conditions, we strive to provide them with the opportunity to increase their hours worked.”

The pay fight is a significant issue for the gaming giant, however is not the only issue that it is currently facing.

It is facing renewed allegations of money laundering and a range of other illegal activity.

The federal government yesterday struck down an attempt by independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie to establish a royal commission into Crown.

Attorney-General Christian Porter labelled the request “completely premature”, given the multiple investigations currently underway.

Victorian Greens MP Ellen Sandell also rallied for a royal commission.

Mr Wilkie had joined with Victorian state MP Fiona Patten to launch a push this Monday for a royal commission into Crown, which included a chauffeur driver’s video testimony on a wide range of illegal activity he had noticed by the organisation.

However, State Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz said “it’s not uncommon for high roller rooms to have large amounts of cash in those rooms and let me remind the member that cash is indeed a legal tender”.

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